Digging through some old journal documents, I found this note. I had been at an event that was a bit out of my comfort zone: Late at night, unfamiliar roads, no family with me. Here is what I noticed about the evening:
The event was fine. But it went a bit long for me, and the weather was cool outside. So I was tired and shivering as well as lonely by the time I got home.
The feeling of peace and relaxation when I made it into my own doorway was amazing. It was warm and lit and safe. I had successfully navigated my evening and made it back to my sheltered “nest”.
Then I thought: Imagine this feeling magnified when I get home to Heaven! The warmth, peace, relaxation, shelter will be beyond comprehension. I can’t wait!November 2016 1
But, Wait! There’s More…
The Bible teaches that this world is not all that there is, and that it is not our ultimate destination. This life will end, and its troubles (or triumphs) will fade away. The remaining life that continues forever will make everything that we now know seem like just a moment that has quickly passed (Psalm 39:4-5, Psalm 103:15-16, Psalm 144:3-4).
Our current short life is the place to prepare for our true eternal life. What we choose now will determine what that time will be like. It will exist, no matter what. That existence has two alternatives: It can be a living, growing relationship with God, as He designed and as Jesus died to provide. Or, it can be a hopeless, despairing eternity away from Him, if the individual insists on rejecting Jesus’ offer of a way home.
The Bible is full of these contrasts, these choices between life and death. It starts at the very beginning, with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3:6-8, Genesis 3:22-24; spoiler: They chose poorly 2). It continues with Moses, speaking to the people as they prepared to enter the Promised Land after God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Jeremiah 11:6-8; spoiler: They also chose poorly). Jesus described the contrast in His story of “The rich man and Lazarus” in Luke 16:19-31 (spoiler: The rich man chose poorly, as well).
Jesus also told of a coming end point when all choices will be revealed and evaluated (John 5:28-29, Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 7:21-23). In doing so, He was consistent what had been said in the Old Testament (Daniel 12:1-2), and what would be said at the end of the New Testament (Revelation 20:11-15).
The judgment passages mentioned above distinguish between those who “do good” or “do the Father’s will” or “are written in the book of life” vs. those who fall short. The good news of Jesus is that He is the way to meet those requirements (John 6:40, John 14:6, Romans 10:9). The classic passage for this, of course, is:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.John 3:16-18 3
The home that is waiting as a gift for those who choose to accept Jesus is something wonderful to anticipate. Yes, there will be marvelous physical treasures there (Revelation 21:18-21, Revelation 21:24-26, Revelation 22:1-2). Even better, we will be reunited with loved ones who have died before us (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). But the main attraction to it (really the only attraction that matters) is that God is there, up close and personal in a way that we cannot access until then.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”Revelation 21:1-4 (See also Revelation 22:1-7 and Revelation 21:22-23; and from the Old Testament, see Isaiah 25:6-9 and Isaiah 60:19-20)
There is no better home imaginable. And to think that it’s available as a free gift, offered by Jesus to anyone who will accept it!
Those who hold on to their “independence” and separation from God, however, are choosing to remain on the opposite path, the one leading only to misery. There is no middle ground: If a person can’t stand to live with God, then they must therefore live without Him. That breaks His heart! 😪
Whatever is happening in my life today, I can remember that Heaven and Hell are more important…and last longer!
Footnotes and Scripture References
- Over 20 years ago, I wrote about another aspect of Heaven. That thought is posted on this site in the article “Welcome“.
- As a reminder of the origin of that phrase, here is the clip from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. Caution: The end is not easy to watch.
- For a beautiful dramatization of this passage, enjoy this 10-minute clip from “The Chosen” TV series. It encompasses the entire conversation between Jesus and the religious leader Nicodemus.